France intends to implement certain projects jointly with Azerbaijan, French Minister of State for State Reform and Simplification attached to the Prime Minister, member of the government, President of the Senate’s Ecologist parliamentary group Jean-Vincent Place told reporters in Baku. Jean-Vincent Place also said that the cooperation between Azerbaijan and France in the field of education stands at a high level, and France companies are represented here at the highest level. “We had discussions with the service management on bilateral cooperation. Besides, we are willing to implement projects to develop e-government portal. The main goal is to conduct the exchange of experience. France has some experience on e-government. We can benefit from “ASAN” mobile buses in many departments. We held and will hold several meetings in connection with partnership in the field of open government,” the minister said.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey lavorv, during a press conference, affirmed that Russia is ready to take part in a new Normandy Quartet (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) meeting scheduled for November 29, provided it will not be another pointless meeting. On Wednesday, German top diplomat Frank Walter Steinmeier, while addressing the Bundestag (German Parliament), said that Germany and France had plans to arrange a Normandy Quartet ministerial meeting in Belarus’s capital of Minsk on November 29. On 23rd of November, the members of Contact Group ( Ukraine, Russian federation, Donetsk’s People Republic and Lugansk’s People republic) met during a meeting, but they didn’t reach any positive result. The parties, in particular, needs to agree on the ways to put into effect the law on the special status of Donbass, ensure that the parties to the conflict take simultaneous steps in the security sphere while the Ukrainian authorities implement political reforms in accordance with the Minsk agreements.
France accused Syria and its allies on Wednesday of using the political uncertainty in the United States to launch “total war” against rebel-held areas in the country and said states opposed to President Bashar al-Assad would meet in Paris soon. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is only inaugurated on Jan. 20 and the outgoing administration is not expected to take an active role in Syria so close to leaving office. European diplomats have expressed concern that Assad may feel emboldened by Trump’s vow to build closer ties with Russia, Syria’s ally.
Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will pay a working visit to France on November 17. During the visit, Mammadyarov will meet with French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Jean-Marc Ayrault and discuss prospects of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The current state of the negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will also be discussed at the meeting.
The French Development Agency is preparing to establish a diversified partnership with the Gafsa region, in particular with the Phosphates Company to create rail lines connected to ports and dedicated to phosphate transport, especially to the governorate of Sfax, France’s ambassador in Tunis, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor told TAP on Tuesday during his visit to the region. France is willing to finance this project, he said. Efforts are being made to boost the partnership between Gafsa governorate and several French regions, including Lille and the Pays de la Loire, the diplomat said, pointing out that a cultural centre will be created in Gafsa as part of the promotion of the sector in the region. The visit of the French Ambassador in Gafsa is part of monitoring the project to rehabilitate the districts of Essourour and El Moula, financed by AFD and the Tunisian Agency for Rehabilitation and Urban Renewal (ARRU). During his meeting with the governor of Gafsa, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor spoke about the multidisciplinary hospital project that will be carried out in 3 or 4 years for EUR 60 million in the framework of the recycling of part of Tunisia’s debt to France. This project will have a large influence on neighbouring regions, he pointed out.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed met, on Wednesday in Paris, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. In a statement to TAP, the French FM said that during the meeting they discussed the ways to provide the conditions for success of the International Conference on Investment “Tunisia 2020” scheduled for November 29 and 30. Emphasis was also placed on security co-operation between the two countries and the means and mechanisms that should be put in place to encourage the rapid return of French tourists to Tunisia. “France is actively encouraging tourists to visit Tunisia,” he said, adding that whoever believes in the Tunisian democracy should not hesitate to visit this country. Jean-Marc Ayrault also stressed that France is already very committed to Tunisia through the mobilisation of a EUR 1 billion fund over five years and contributes significantly to the doubling of European financial support to Tunisia.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, on Wednesday, called on French tourists to return to Tunisia and take full advantage of their holidays in this “beautiful country”. Tourism is a driving element of the Tunisian economy and the security situation has improved considerably, he said at the end of his meeting with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. He is making a two-day official visit to France. Some 464,665 French tourists visited Tunisia in 2015, down 35.5% compared to 2014. France has been the leading European customer of Tunisia in terms of tourism since 2004. In an exclusive statement to TAP, France’s ambassador to Tunis, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor stressed his country’s determination to actively encourage the rapid return of French tourists to Tunisia. “This position is explained by the stabilisation of the political and security situation in Tunisia insofar as the danger of terrorism is largely controlled by the efforts exerted by the military and security institutions,” he said.
“We have to invent new relations between Tunisia and France,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on the eve of his official visit to France (November 9 and 10), the first to a European country since he took office as PM. The political commitment of France to Tunisia “needs to be taken to a higher level.” Being “the exception in the Arab Spring, the challenge now is a successful transition to a new model,” he stressed in an interview with French newspaper “Le Monde” on Tuesday. Youssef Chahed said Tunisia defends the same universal values of democracy and human rights on which Europe is built and therefore “we have to be a strategic partner with a strong commitment from the international community.” Asked about his decision to postpone salary increases in the public service and to impose new taxes on liberal professions, the Prime Minister said Tunisia is facing “a difficult economic situation (requiring) tightening a bit the belt”. “We need everyone to be involved in these sacrifices to rescue the public finances,” he said.
Over 700 business leaders, businessmen, human resources managers, academics and students from Tunisia, Algeria, France, Canada and several African countries are taking part in the 1st edition of the Mediterranean Meetings on Human Resources, held on November 4-5 in Yasmine Hammamet, President of the meeting Maha Chehata Meddeb told TAP. Under the theme of : “HR Prospective: Context and Challenges,” the event is organised by human resources managers in partnership with the Tunisian Institute of Strategic Studies (ITES). The goal is to develop a strategy to promote the management of human resources which will be submitted to ITES to serve as a reference in its prospective studies on Tunisia in 2025. ITES Director Hatem Ben Salem laid emphasis on the need for Tunisia to build a forward-looking vision on employment, investment, business, and human resources management taking into account the major transformations facing jobs and the markets in the next decades, as 50% of the current jobs will disappear he said by reference to several studies.
The news was announced by the French Defence Minister Jean – Yves Le Drian during his visit in Bangui. Operation Sangaris, launched by France in December 2013 in response to the UN resolution 2127 (5 December 2013), will end in 2016. “We can finally see the country emerging by a long period of trouble and uncertainty”, the minister said. In two years, the mission was able to restore stability in the country, thus fulfilling its objectives. Perhaps this is the reason behind French decision to withdraw its contingents.
Disorder in CAR began in March 2013, when a Muslim rebel movement, known as Seleka, overthrew the government of the Christian president Francois Bozize, replacing him with their leader Michel Djotodia. The Djotodia government remained in office for 10 months: at that period, the ethnic violence between the Muslim minority and the Christian majority spread out in the country, thus causing the death of thousands of people.
The international community reacted unanimously and approved the above resolution. This resolution not only condemned the spiral of ethnic and religious violence fueled by rebel groups, but also authorized the deployment of MISCA mission (Mission internationale de soutien à la Centrafrique sous conduite africaine). This mission authorized French forces to take all necessary measures -in respect of the mandate- to achieve the three main objectives of the mission: disarmament of armed groups, restoration of civil authority and support in the preparation of the elections.
Begun with 1,600 soldiers, Operation Sangaris had around 2,500 men deployed at its peak. The Djotodia government proved to be unable to keep rebels -who had brought him to power- under control, thus dragging the country into a civil war. The situation improved after the resignation of the President and the appointment of a transitional government led by Catherine Samba-Panza, the first woman president of the country. Improvements in CAR security contest induced the French government to reduce the forces gradually, while continuing supporting the international mission.
Today, France has 900 units deployed in the Central African Republic. Minister Le Drian stressed that 300 soldiers will remain there even after the end of Operation. These troops will support the UN mission MINUSCA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) and will participate in the training mission led by the European Union (EUTM RCA). Some units will provide security at the airport; others will be based in Ivory Coast and in the Sahel region ready to intervene if necessary.
As Le Drian refers, in fact, the security environment in the country has significantly improved, but there are still problems to be solved. The disarmament of rebel movements and the creation of a legitimate and efficient army are the major challenges that the newly elected President Faustine Archange Touadera will face. This explains the permanence of international missions and French forces. As it is known, indeed, France cares about the relations with the territories once belonging to its colonial empire and has repeatedly helped in internal crisis by sending its armed forces.
The withdrawal from Bangui is not a surprise. From the beginning, French mission was supposed to be a temporary mission and over the years, France has tried to decrease- when conditions made it possible- its military presence on the ground. However, ensuring the continued presence of some units in the future once again emphasizes French commitment abroad -a clear sign that, despite the international situation and the threats to the country, France defends its values of free nation and his influential position in the former colonial empire.